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Friday, March 30, 2012 - Celebrating undergraduate student excellence, accomplishments

Throughout the school, across the university and within the community, SBA students are active, involved and successful -- and contributing to a solid reputation for OU and the SBA. These students are recognized for their achievements in a variety of ways including being selected for leadership positions, earning a place of academic honor, receiving scholarships and other undergraduate accomplishments.

To further recognize the contributions and achievements of these hard-working students, the SBA hosted its first Undergraduate Student Recognition Dinner, sponsored by the OU Branch of the MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU).

“We wanted to do something in a cohesive way to bring students who’ve done really well in the School of Business Administration together and honor them,” says Karen Markel, faculty director, strategic initiatives and undergraduate business programs, and associate professor, management. “We wanted to show our appreciation for the work they’ve done and the contributions they’ve made.”

In all, more than 180 SBA undergraduate students – and one guest each -- were invited to the December dinner.  “It’s nice to get involved students together and invite their families to campus,” Markel says.

SBA Dean Mohan Tanniru, SBA faculty members, representatives from the SBA Board of Visitors and many alumni joined in the evening of recognition and celebration.

Guest speaker Razzaaq McConner, SBA ’01, shared how his experience in the SBA -- and ATiB in particular -- helped prepare him for his career as a commodity manager for metal exterior components with Chrysler. From group projects to internship opportunities -- the experiences "definitely helped prepare me for what I’m doing now,” McConner says.

Starting a tradition

Thanks to a three-year commitment from this year's sponsor, the OU Branch of the MSUFCU, the SBA hopes to make the recognition dinner an annual tradition.

"The Credit Union is all about education," says SBA Board of Visitors member John M. Savio, vice president, branch operations of the MSUFCU. "This recognition dinner is a program we like a lot and want to support."

The SBA is excited about making the Undergraduate Student Recognition Dinner an annual tradition, Markel says. There was something very satisfying, she adds, about the inaugural event. “We were honoring the students in a thoughtful way.”

Appreciating the recognition -- and the opportunities

Students who attended the dinner appreciate the acknowledgment of their hard work.

Former president of the Association for Information Systems at OU and a recipient of the SBA’s Diane and Michael Grieves Endowed Diversity Scholarship, Andrew Etienne, MIS '11, says, “It's further proof the SBA cares about the students at Oakland; that they care a great deal about achievement.”

Etienne is confident his education combined with his work experience as a student technician and system administrator for the SBA will help him with his new position with Auto-Owners Insurance in Lansing.

Julie Molnar, business administration major and Dean's List honoree, agrees, "It was a benevolent thing for the SBA to do, to go out of their way to have this dinner.”

Molnar, a senior who also served as president of the SBA's Society for Human Resource Management, says students benefit from the small class sizes in the SBA, combined with its many out-of-classroom opportunities, including internship programs. “That is another way the school connects you with real-life opportunities.”

Junior Stephen Grassi, an accounting major, says the SBA’s recognition dinner meant a great deal to him. “It’s a very good time for students to come together and see all of the things students are involved in,” he says.

An ATiB participant, Dean’s List honoree, SBA Scholar and OU Presidential Scholar, Grassi is grateful for the many opportunities the SBA offers to excel. “There are many extracurricular activities offered, and many of these extracurricular organizations bring in speakers to increase student knowledge of the business world.”

Rebecca Braga, an accounting major who is in the Scholars program, on the Dean’s List and is an SBA Tower Scholarship recipient, says, “It was nice to be recognized for the hard work we put in and get our faces out there ... and have a chance to see what other students in the SBA are doing.”

Braga values the close ties she’s formed with SBA faculty and the support she has received from OU's Michelle Serafino of Career Services. She also is impressed with the SBA’s reputation in the accounting world. “It’s great to be able to go to any accounting firm, and they know our school," she adds.

By Flori Meeks